Providing clarity

I guess I’ve been unclear about what is going on with Houndstooth Hall and its residents, so I’ll paraphrase and add to some some answers I gave on Instagram.

We were only out of our house the first couple of weeks after the flood (that is when we stayed at Lynne’s with our dogs and Tim’s dogs). During that time, demo was done on the floors and walls, all our ruined furniture and appliances were put on the curb, and what we saved was put in storage. We have kept most of what was salvageable of our furniture in our house (Debby and Tim lost basically everything; we were not as badly flooded in the house). Dehumidifiers ran constantly in the house and apartments, and everything was sprayed with various products to reduce any chance of or eliminate any mold. We also had to have some repairs done to our gas line. We were busy during that time dealing with the paperwork and bureaucracy resulting from all the property and our two cars being flooded. Both cars have since been replaced. Debby’s truck was unaffected because it was higher up than our cars.

Tom, Debby, and I have been living in the house since mid-September on plywood floors, with no sheetrock or insulation on all the lower walls in the house. We did have to leave again for five days when the fence was replaced because the dogs couldn’t go outside, so we stayed at Lynne’s again.

Tim was living remotely–for the first week, where he was housesitting when the flood came, because his clients couldn’t fly back into the city. His car was not affected because that area didn’t flood. Then for several weeks he and his dogs lived in a house provided by a generous RPM volunteer which she was getting ready to put on the market. Then Pixie and Penny came to be with us for another couple of weeks while Tim and Pollock stayed at the Secret Unicorn Sanctuary. But he’s been back in Fox Den for a while, and Debby will hopefully be able to move into Fairy Cottage with her dogs this weekend.

Completely unrelated and prior to the flood, Lynne put her house on the market and it sold a couple of months after the flood. So she and her dogs have been staying with us until she moves into their next residence after Christmas.

Since it took our contractors about three months to repair the apartments, you can guess how long it may take before our house is completed–they will start on that next week, we hope. At that point, Tom, our dogs, and I will be living mostly in one half of what pre-flood was my home office with all our surviving furniture in the other half while in the rest of the house: our insulation and drywall is replaced, then new subflooring and flooring, then wood trim and doors replaced and painted, then the lower kitchen cabinets pulled and replaced and painted. Then we will be back in the other rooms of the house while the office is repaired and new subfloor and floor put down there.

So we have basically always resided here, it just isn’t very pretty with plywood floors and exposed walls, and we lost a lot of furniture and personal things. But we didn’t lose the house, and we didn’t have to be out of it for very long. The dogs LOVE having missing lower walls, as they have many secret passages into and out of rooms. As bad as it looks and as strange as it is to have most of our belongings in storage, at least we’ve been home.

It will be a home undecorated at Christmas, and that is fine.

Early birthday

Lynne’s birthday is not until Monday, but since we were all together on Friday, we decided to go out to dinner. The restaurant allowed me to bring the cake I baked and even held it in the cooler until we were ready to surprise her with it. Or we tried to surprise her, but it was an adult who shall remain nameless, not the nine-year-old, who blurted out the surprise. Said nine-year-old was too busy making me laugh.

Fortunately even without the surprise factor, the cake was a success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As you may remember, this is my favorite holiday and the meal I most love to cook. This year we couldn’t really entertain since our house is still in post-flood stage. And even though Lynne has sold her house and most of it is packed away, she still hosted Tom, Debby, Tim, and me along with Jess, Laura, and her grandchildren Lila and Isaac.

I provided a hen and dressing along with cranberry sauce and gravy.

Debby cooked field peas, green beans, and a pan of brownies.

Lynne set out a feast: two kinds of sweet potato casseroles, a Cajun fried turkey, corn, potatoes au gratin, mashed potatoes, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. She also had pumpkin pie, apple pie, and chocolate chip cookies.

Wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all those in or from the US, and just a day of thanks for all my friends in other countries. I’m certainly grateful for my friends, family, and the many good things in my life. No silly flood can take that away.

November 22, 1963

I got on the school bus. Another girl was holding a transistor radio to her ear and crying. When I asked someone what was wrong, he said, “Somebody shot the president.”

I was so young that I couldn’t possibly know the impact. But I remember the TV being on for days and watching the funeral. I remember going into the bathroom and crying into my towel where it hung on the rack and wondering, “What’s going to happen to us?”

Each time I see a child grapple with horrific news and watch innocence die in their eyes, I remember again.

It was a subdued Christmas that year.

Veterans Day

In the early nineties I began to educate myself about AIDS and the staggering loss of life it caused. I read and heard too many accounts of people losing their friends at an age when that seemed impossible–all these young people taken at a time when their lives were either blossoming with new experiences and accomplishments or they were enjoying the results of those.

The only metaphor I could think of was war. Where else had young men and women seen their friends and equals (among their own and their enemies) die at such young ages but war? AIDS was a disease that laid waste to a generation the way Vietnam did my brother’s, or World War 2 my parents’, and the Gulf War my nephews’ and nieces’. As the great-granddaughter, daughter, and sister of soldiers and an airman, I was taught in my home to honor those who served, and it was a lesson that was repeated from every stage, podium, or pulpit.

Of course outside of the AIDS/HIV ravaged community, no one was advocating that we care about those fighting or suffering the losses in the war that was AIDS. In that way, AIDS more accurately depicted the reality I had come to understand about our military veterans as I grew older. Everybody says support our troops and puts it on magnets or bumper stickers. There are parades and speeches and even a day, today, created to recognize veterans.

In truth, we seem to deal much better with a different holiday–Memorial Day. We honor the dead and comfort their survivors. We lay wreaths and set flags on the graves of the lost. It’s uncomplicated for the larger community (though not so much for those who actually knew and loved the lost). Our throats close up and our eyes well with tears when we see those flag-draped coffins or hear the 21-Gun Salute.

In contrast, for me, for decades, the speeches on Veterans Day ring hollow because we don’t actually care for at least one segment of our veterans as we should–those who have seen battle or served in wartime or who have been trained to serve in wartime. The cost to the mental and physical health of soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines is staggering. That isn’t to say there aren’t people trying–there are many groups of veterans who continue to serve each other. There are medical professionals and volunteers and families all engaged in a new war to save those who have seen and done things the rest of us never will. But the larger community, the nation as a whole, filters out the grim reality of the statistics of the costs of war and military service to those at home: drug use, alcoholism, domestic violence, unemployment, trauma, behavioral issues, and suicide.

Yesterday I read a Twitter thread that resonated with me in so many ways. I’m putting it here so I can go back to it. I hope it makes everyone who reads it uncomfortable. We should be uncomfortable. I wish I thought it would change things. But we still glorify battle (how many video/computer games exist that do just that, how many military-style weapons are in the homes of people who have no military training) and avert our eyes from or refuse even our compassion to those for whom such training was not a game, not a hobby. It begins with compassion. The national dialogue on AIDS changed because compassionate people outside the battle began to speak to their friends and families, even if it made them uncomfortable. But it only begins with compassion. After compassion must come awareness, education, and action.

I could extrapolate this to society’s other ills that culminate in atrocity (poverty, racism, sexism, for example). But today is for veterans. If we are going to train killers, then we need to provide a supportive care system to retrain them. Our healthcare system, our national discourse, and our efforts as individuals need to stop glorifying war even if we recognize it as a final necessity–my father did what he thought was right, and I believe he was right, too–and deal intelligently with its consequences.


Thread Reader is happy to present an unrolled Twitter story by @cmclymer

1/ I have some things to say about the Texas shooting. It’s gonna piss some people off, and that’s too bad. It needs to be said. (thread) 2/ I served in the Army. I was trained as an infantryman. A grunt. That’s about as nuts-and-bolts as it gets in

Photo Friday, No. 575

Current Photo Friday theme: Soft

This is Harley, Debby’s dog, and he would love to go home. He’s being good in our house, because he’s a very good boy, but nothing would make him happier to be in Fairy Cottage with Debby and his brother Stewie. Soon, old boy, very soon.

In this picture, he makes me think of Guinness. I miss her and Margot more than words can express.